Some days ago I bought a Zorki 1 camera at the Lomography Online Shop. Great and tiny rangefinder camera, with a wonderful collapsible lens, a very sharp Industar 50/3,5! I bought this camera for street photography, but in this case I used it in an unconventional way!
Some days ago I bought a Zorki 1. Why? I have other rangefinder cameras, as Fed 2, Fed 5, Zorki 4, 5 and 6. So, why I bought it? Well, the answer is simple: because it is tiny! This is the smallest Russian copy of the famous Leica cameras. It is a little smaller than a Fed 2 or a Zorki 6, because the upper part requires less space (the viewfinder and the rangefinder are built in two separate windows, as in the first Leica cameras).
My first experience with this camera was done few kilometres outside my city, Como. I used this camera at San Fermo della Battaglia, a little town on a hill, famous for an epic battle of Garibaldi against the Austrian troops. I photographed the few monuments in this area, starting with a modern sundial placed near a bus stop. Then I went toward the main square to photograph the monument of Garibaldi. Today this town is an example of urban disaster, a “dormitory district” of Como, where during the day there is almost nobody around!
As you can see, the Zorki 1 is very versatile: it can be used for photos of architecture, urban planning, urban details. Its precise and bright rangefinder allows you to focus accurately, and with a little care you can easily compensate for the slight parallax error typical of these cameras. After having focused, you have to move the lens toward the eye that you used to compose the image.
In many of these photos I chose to place poles and obstacles in front of the monuments, a tribute to the great photographer Lee Friedlander that in the ’70s had made similar pictures using a Leica camera.
The shutter is quiet and the absence of a mirror allow you to take photos without a tripod even at slow times, for example at 1/30 or even at 1/20 of second. My camera in one of the first models, and has the old time scale (Z for B pose, 1/20, 1/30, 1/40, 1/60, 1/100, 1/200 and 1/500). After this experience, my conclusion is that this camera is a good alternative to my Fed 2; it fit comfortably into the pocket of a jacket! However, the viewfinder separate from the rangefinder involves a slightly different way of working: for street photos I prefer the more recent models of Fed and Zorki cameras, which the two eyepieces coupled. However this camera is great when you have time to compose and you need to carry a little camera with you!